Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Straight From The Rook #3

Mat MacDonald AKA The Rook

The Rook is currently enrolled in Human Kinetics at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. A frequent contributor to all NBA and Raptors debates along with other sports. Witty, quick and never afraid of a challenge, Mat's here to talk hoops with you and dish out his two cents whenever!

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The Art of Rebounding

“These are my new shoes. Theyʼre good shoes. They wonʼt make you rich like me, they wonʼt make you rebound like me, they definitely wonʼt make you handsome like me. Theyʼll only make you have shoes like me. Thatʼs it.”

Charles Barkley

Yes, weʼre talking about the rebound here. Not the dunk, not the assist, not even the block, but the rebound.

There have always been prolific scorers in the NBA and always will be like Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Irving, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant. There will always be your assist guys like John Stockton, Rajon Rondo, Scott Skiles, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash.

But do people always remember the people that start the possession off the defensive rebound?

Do people always recognize the players that secure those long rebounds on the offensive end to create second chances? Not always. So because of that, here at The NBA Breakdown weʼre giving a shout out to the top 10 rebounders of all time. Their rankings may not be based on stats, but weʼre talking the hardest, most gritty rebounders the hardwood has ever seen.

10. Dwight Howard - Lucky to be on this list - and yes I said lucky - Howardʼs tallied 6,189 rebounds in under 500 games. Add to that heʼs lead the NBA in rebounds for three straight seasons and thatʼs good enough reason for Dwight to get the nod on this list.

Without a doubt when itʼs all said and done Iʼd expect this guy to finish in the top 10 all-time for both rebounds and rebounds per-game. Baring some sort of injury Howard could easily become a top 3 member of the all-time club by the time heʼs 35.

9. Elgin Baylor - The 11-time All-Star and numerous NBA first-team member is a lock for the top 10. Averaging 13.5 a game and grabbing 11,463 for the career is nothing to shake your head at. By looking at his numbers you can only imagine what Dwight Howard will do.

8. Walt Bellamy - While everyone was focusing on the likes of Russell and Wilt, Bellamy just handled his business daily, finishing his career averaging 13.7 rebounds per game over a 13 seasons. For his career he had a total of 14,241 rebounds which is nothing to shake your head at. Add to that he was the rookie of the year, a four-time NBA All-Star and an Olympic Gold Medalist. Walt made his name back in the time where grit and hard-nosed players were the only type of players that came around.

7. Wes Unseld - One of, if not to this day the most ʻbeastlyʼ players in the NBA, Unseld was someone that nobody on the opposing team wanted to mess with. Watching video of Wes play scared me at times. I always wondered what it would feel like to get knocked out by a bag of bricks. Now I know. Unseld wasnʼt the biggest player on the court most nights but it sure felt like it. He averaged 14 rebounds per game and lead the NBA in rebounding during the 1974-75ʼ season.

6. Nate Thurmond - If he wasnʼt going to beat you with his game heʼd talk you into losing. Nate was one of the scariest opposing players for most NBA guys back in the day and he used that to his advantage. Standing at 6ʼ11 he made Chamberlin look like a child some nights as he was one of the most fierce rebounders to ever put on an NBA jersey. He averaged 15 rebounds per-game during his 14 year NBA career and tallied a total of 14,464 rebounds by the time he retired. He was a member of the NBAʼs all-defensive first team twice and second team once.

5. Jerry Lucas - There isnʼt too much to say that could hype up Lucas. He wasnʼt a high flying white-boy like Chase Budinger - to this day Iʼm not sure if his hair gives him that extra spring - and he had nothing in his game to make him flashy. Lucas simply did the dirty work, and at 6ʼ8 he had to do a lot of dirty to take care of business. Averaging 15.6 rebounds and tallying 12,942 rebounds over 11 years Lucas goes down as one of the least athletic, Jerry Sloan look-a-like players the NBA has ever seen. Congrats, Jerry.

4. Bob Pettit - Another ʻsmallʼ white man playing in an athletically-dominated era, Pettit got it done with hard work too. 16.2 rebounds per-game and 12,851 for his career was all because of the heart he played with. It was easy to tell that no one believed in Pettit during his rookie years - who really wants a stretched out Chris Quinn to play power-forward? Well, the Hawks did. Pettit ended up being a 10-time NBA first-team member, the rookie of the year, an NBA champion and he goes down as one of the 50 greatest players in the NBA. Not bad. Now if only Chris Quinn would wake up and read this.

3. Bill Russell - Itʼs so hard to say who was the better player and who was the better rebounder between Russell and Chamberlain, but after seeing that Chamberlain lead the NBA in rebounding an astonishing 10 times, it became a no brainer.

Bill Russell however wasnʼt too bad himself. Can you imagine anyone in todayʼs game averaging 22.5 rebounds per game for a season let alone a career? Absolutely not. Russell grabbed 21,620 rebounds for his career and about 10,000 of them probably came in his sleep. Not to mention he was a 12-time NBA All-Star and an 11-time NBA champion and suddenly youʼve got yourself a freak. He was named to the NBAʼs top 50 list in 1996 and is arguably the best player besides Jordan to ever play the game.

2. Wilt Chamberlain - What can you say? Wilt did everything and when it came to rebounding, he out-rebounded some NBA teams in todayʼs game. 23,924 rebounds for his career in just 1,045 games for an average of 22.9 rebounds per-game is astonishing. Add to that he averaged 30.1 points per-game for his career and you have the type of dynamic player that youʼll probably never see again in the NBA in regards to big men being able to do that kind of work.

1. Dennis Rodman - Alright, I know what youʼre thinking. What the hell is this kid thinking, saying that Rodman is the best rebounder of all time and he has the nerve to leave Kareem off the list? He mustʼve grown up in the Bullsʼ era. Well yes, I did! But regardless of what era you grew up in you had to give love to the work that Dennis Rodman put in for the Bulls, Pistons and Spurs. For Detroit Rodman had three seasons of 700+ rebounds and three monster years in a row with 1,000+ rebounds. Hell, he was picking up everything on the floor, every loose ball, every steal tipped, every girlfriend broken up with court-side.

If you lost it, he was rebounding it. In two seasons with the Spurs Rodman left his mark grabbing over 2,000 boards. It was for the Chicago Bulls where the man who looked in character for a Halloween movie with his unique hair styles and tattoos came to life. He never grabbed as many rebounds as he did in his Pistonsʼ days but he put everything he had on the line. Every. Single. Night. In a single game against the Pacers in 92ʼ Rodman grabbed 34 rebounds. If there was a definition for grit, this manʼs picture would be right next to it.

So there you have it, the top-ten rebounders. Donʼt call them for advice on girls, they couldnʼt tell you. But if you ever needed tips on rebounding the ball, they might be the dudes. One thing will never be questioned about these ten guys. The top skill that all of them possessed towards becoming great rebounders was their heart and effort they put in on a nightly basis.

When you look at the NBA today you think of the top rebounders as players seven feet or taller, and why not? Dwight Howard has lead the league for the past three seasons in rebounding and before him Kevin Garnett was the league leader for numerous years. Shaq has always been big on the boards and guys like Kevin Love, Luis Scola and Joakim are all up on the rise for boards.
Now, the reason that I decided it was time to write this article.

Itʼs been apparent this year that the Toronto Raptorsʼ Reggie Evans is a man on a mission. After being hurt last season and returning in not as good shape has he had hoped, Evans has been an absolute beast this season on the glass. Heʼs made Samuel Dalembert look like a midget, the Cleveland Cavaliers look like a D-League team and the Knicks look as ugly as the asbestos falling from Madison Square Gardenʼs roof.

Through three games Reggie Evans has tallied 16, 14 and most recently, 19 rebounds. To say the guy is loving his role right now is an understatement. Last night after securing ten rebounds in the first quarter of the game and dominating for most of it on the glass, Evans secured an offensive rebound right in front of the Sacramento Kings bench. The reaction of Samuel Dalembert - who was on the bench for not being able to rebound in the first place - was priceless. Iʼve never seen a 7ʼ2 daddy long-legs shoot up out of his seat with such disgust.

Itʼs 2010 and the NBAʼs been missing a Dennis Rodman/Charles Oakley type player for a while now...or at least the Raptors have if you donʼt want to look past Canadaʼs team. While it may be completely pre-mature to throw out any claims that Evans is going to be the NBAʼs leader in rebounds this season, we canʼt help but think it would be fun.

Hereʼs to you Reggie. Donʼt hurt too many egos this season.

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